“Cap and tax?” Not quite.

One of the hottest topics of debate right now is the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would institute a “cap and trade” system capping the greenhouse gases that American industry produces and allowing companies to trade with one another for the rights to emissions that they need in their power-generation and manufacturing. It’s believed cap and trade would lead to lower CO2 emissions, thereby combating global warming. Republicans have been quick to attack the plan, raising the specter that a cap and trade system will “raise utility costs on every American family to generate $646 billion in new taxes, while shipping millions of American jobs to foreign countries.” One common talking point used by conservatives to attack cap and trade is that cap and tradewill increase costs per family by an estimated $1,600 to $3,200 each year, tantamount to an increase in taxes for those families.

While Republicans are beating the tax increase talking point to death, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the average American household could pay an added $175 a year in energy costs by 2020 if the American Clean Energy and Security Act becomes law. Further, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates the additional average cost per household to be between $98 and $140 per year. Now I wasn’t a math major in school, but even with my rudimentary math skills, $175 is not equal to $1,600 or $3,200 or any number in between, and even one of the authors of the MIT study Republicans are basing their figure on has said the GOP’s use of the study is “simplistic and misleading” and that it “ignores key provisions designed to cushion the impact on consumers.”

I’ll admit – I’m not completely sold on American Clean Energy and Security Act, simply because I haven’t read enough about it to know what it’s really going to do or how it’s going to impact me, but I will say this – I’d gladly pay a little more out of my pocket to enjoy cleaner air.

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3 thoughts on ““Cap and tax?” Not quite.

  1. I don’t like this free market approach to cleaning the air by allowing companies or people to make or lose money in an ‘environmental securities exchange’. This removes the morality in being good stewards of the earth and replaces it with “you get what you can afford” pollution. How would you like to live near a high pollution plant and learn they are scrapping the purchase of new air scrubbers because they can buy offsetting carbon securities for one-half the cost?
    This is a bad idea IMO.

    1. PB, it’s funny you mention living near a high pollution plant, because I happen to live near the Oak Creek power plant here in SE Wisconsin, hence the reason why I’d like to see something substantive done to curb carbon emissions. I know I’m being selfish, but I want clean air for my family…

  2. I normally generally usually judge things by a few criteria: 1) is it Constitutional? 2) will it work? and 3) how will it be paid for?

    1) seems to me that Congress most def has the right to tax and regulate commerce.
    2) Will it work? No. We are not alone in this world. We are not the only polluters. So IMHO capping our carbon emissions is not enough. Because even if our program works at 100% efficiency, it’s not going to reduce global emissions in the long run because other country’s emissions will just grow and eventually replace ours. But I could be wrong and I’m willing to be shown the error of my ways.
    3) This WILL be paid for by consumers. I know I’m being selfish, but I do not want to pay for something that will not work.

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